Two retired priests suspended from ministry for sexual abuse allegations

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WLNE) – The Diocese of Fall River announced Sunday that two retired priests have been suspended from ministry due to allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.

The allegations are believed to have occurred decades ago, according to the diocese.

The suspended priests are Father James F. Buckley and Father Edward J. Byington.

According to the Diocese of Providence, Byington had previously assisted at Masses in parishes in the Providence area including St. Augustine in Providence, where he was in residence until 2015. 

Byington also assisted in Masses at St. Joan of Arc in Cumberland, and St. Joseph in West Warwick where he also taught part-time at the parish school. A spokesperson said he was never a priest of the Diocese of Providence

A spokesperson says after learning the information from the Diocese of Fall River, the Diocese of Providence immediately removed him from any further participation or duties within the Providence area.

“Nothing is more important than the welfare of all members of our diocesan community, especially anyone who has been harmed or impacted by abuse in any way,” Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha said in a statement Sunday. “The Diocese of Fall River remains committed to resolving these matters in as fair and as transparent a process as possible and to ensuring the safety of all youth and vulnerable adults.”

Both Dioceses urge anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse, or with credible
knowledge of such abuse, by any member of the church to report the information to the Rhode Island State Police Major Crimes Unit 401-444-1000 or the diocesan Office of Compliance at 401-941-0760, and 508-985-6508 for Massachusetts.